Georgia Rushes to Execute Inmates Before Lethal Drug Runs Out

The state of Georgia is rushing to proceed with the execution of two men before its supply of pentobarbital, the drug to be used for the executions, runs out on March 1. Georgia’s entire supply of the drug is due to expire on that date and its attorney general is seeking to overturn two stays of execution for the men, says the Guardian.

One of the men, Warren Hill, who has been on death row since 1991, was to be executed by  lethal injection on July 23. With less than two hours to spare, the Georgia Supreme Court granted him a stay of execution to determine if a recent change to Georgia’s lethal-injection protocol was in violation of state law. Specifically, the courts stepped in after discovering that Georgia’s corrections department had ordered pentobarbital for use in executions without a doctor’s prescription, in violation of federal laws about the distribution of controlled substances.

Hill’s death warrant goes until February 26. The death warrant for the other man, Andrew Cook — he has been on death row since 1995 — goes until February 28. Both men are convicted murderers.

Hill’s lawyers have been working for more than a decade to halt his execution due to his having intellectual disabilities. His case has brought international condemnation on Georgia and, by extension, to the U.S., the only Western democracy that still allows capital punishment.

Georgia still has 94 men and one woman on death row besides Hill and Cook. A spokeswoman for Georgia’s corrections assures the Guardian that the state will still be able to obtain “sufficient supplies of the drugs necessary to carry out the court ordered lethal injection process.”

States Turning to “DIY Drugs” For Executions

As Ed Pilkington writes, for Georgia to do so may well mean that it will be turning to some dubious sources, including drug manufacturers in India and compounding pharmacies — the latter being operations like the Massachusetts compounding center that was identified as the source of the fungal meningitis outbreak last year. South Dakota executed Eric Robert last October with such “DIY drugs” and Pennsylvania is also planning to execute inmates with such. In fact, Georgia was among a number of U.S. states who were found in 2011 to have purchased lethal injections drugs from Dream Pharma, described as “unlicensed company that operated out of a driving school in west London.”

The European Commission has imposed restrictions on the export of medicines to U.S. corrections departments as has a Danish company, Lundbeck, that makes pentobarbital. Hospira, the one U.S. company that made one of the drugs used in lethal injections, ceased production of it in 2011.

As Maya Foa of the U.K. group Reprieve, says to the Guardian, “medicines should be used to save lives, not end them. The underhand, sordid practices we have seen in states trying to get hold of these drugs exposes their absolute disregard for human dignity.” Georgia’s haste to execute Hill and Cook is an abhorrent violation of human rights and provides yet more evidence (not that it is needed) of why the U.S. must end the death penalty.


Related Care2 Coverage

Texas Will Execute Inmate With IQ of 61 on Tuesday

Woman Burned Alive For Sorcery: Is Being Female A Death Sentence?

Who Decides Where a Disabled Adult Should Live?

Photo from Wikimedia Commons


Wisteria K.
Past Member 4 years ago

Chilling read......

Shalvah Landy
Past Member 4 years ago

"Georgia Rushes to Execute Inmates Before Lethal Drug Runs Out"
"Georgia was among a number of U.S. states who were found in 2011 to have purchased lethal injections drugs from Dream Pharma, described as “unlicensed company that operated out of a driving school in west London.”
Democracy in action...

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago

Killing is never the answer.....

Alan G.
Alan G4 years ago

Do US doctors not take the Hippocratic oath? Or, if doctors are not involved isn't someone practicing "medicine" without a license?

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin4 years ago

There are more reasons for abolishing the death penalty than for keeping it.
The question of justice. How do you know that all evidence have been introduced during trial? There are motions from defense aswell as prosecution to withhold witnesses and other evidence.
The question of due process. Search warrants. Miranda warnings. Pressure and lies from investigating police.
Credible evidence. Witnesses may lie, forget, make up stories, make deals, etc. DNA evidence may be contaminated. And evidence may be constructed to fit the suspect.
The question of fairness. Why do some murderers get life w/o parole and others get executed?
The question of right. Who have the right to kill someone else? The law says you can't kill, but the law kills.
I will end with a few names. Joe Hill. Sacco & Vanzetti, Mrs. Rosenberg. Ron Williamson.
I rest my case.

Anne Marie M.

Anyone who still uses the words "mental retardation" is so out of touch. You do not need to defend yourself, by trying to intimate me. You cannot intimate me. I am just glad I dont have to worry about you being in our area.....God Bless and Guard the Children you supposedly treat.

Mary L.
Mary L4 years ago

Trust Georgia and other death penalty states to get around it.

katarzyna phillips

it's bad if the 'medication' isn't legitimate. however, as long as it 'kills' the person in the way it is meant to, does it really matter? medication is there to SAVE lives, not END it. it made me laugh therefore, that it had to be written up as a 'doctor's prescription'. that goes against the hippocratic oath, i believe?!

however, i agree to the death penalty IF it is proven without a shadow of doubt that the person did the crime/s and it is deemed that they will NEVER get out of prison. to me, they are no good to anybody and yet the state has to pay for their accommodation, security, food, warmth and shelter. that is MORE than stray animals get who have done NOTHING wrong! and who pays the state to pay for all this? the tax payer. i think there are more important things to waste our money [or your money as i don't live in america, thanks whoever upstairs or around for!] on, than someone who would endanger another life again, has no regard for life or humans in general. i know it's a fine line to find if they are really 'guilty', but there are cases where it is 100% and the convicted doesn't deny it. those are the cases i'm really referring to

Joseph P.
Dr Joseph Pizzo4 years ago

If I was on the Witness List, it would be up to the Judge [who could rule that the Witness needed to be replaced or the Defense to Bring a Motion asking the judge for my removal. The judge is an old friend of my Mom. Did you expect HER to rescues herself because she knows the Prosecutor's Mom? Her job was to search her conscience and, if she found any scintilla of doubt that she could be fair and open-minded, she should Recuse herself. She did not do so.

Since I assume all Court employees can read at an adult level, there would have been no mistaking that two surnames were identical.

Joseph P.
Dr Joseph Pizzo4 years ago

I've saved more lives volunteering as a ED twice weekly (to say nothing of suicides averted, ODs successfully managed. etc. than you'll ever see in a high school classroom. I rarely am called as a Expert Witness (at my request), but I'd testified for the People three times as often as for the Defense. I do a lot of volunteer work at clinics for kids. I'm Everyone with kids should be "clean as a hound's tooth." I never testified when my sister was prosecuting. She didn't need me most of the time. Her team was excellent. I was permitted to access Court documents because the two other docs asked for some help. I advised the two Expert Witnesses. I didn't sign off on waiving my 1st Amendment Rights when I got my license to practice.You may be surprised to know that I often - even usually - testify for the Defense.

You miss the point that my comment was about the instant matter. I always have been in favor of the Death Penalty in only VERY special circumstances and I'm a practicing psychiatrist, I am, of course qualified with the DDx of psychiatric disorders, but being crazy according to my diagnosis often does not qualified as being "insane," the defense tactic. I discussed tasty case because it informed my position on the death penalty.I could sound like Doc Warner on L&O and newer docs have questions for the old pros. You haven't seen live and in person (the deaths occurred at a hospital where I have privileges and I happened to be in the building) and the operator p